Don’t worry, I’m not tired of spring. It’s my favourite season! But I’m tired because of spring. It happens to me every year. Looking back, I usually visited my GP somewhere in March/April, complaining of fatigue, brain fog, headaches, and other minor complaints. I still don’t know exactly what’s going on, but it’s back again this year: my spring fatigue.
In January and February it’s still somewhat dark outside, nature is quiet and relatively dormant, but in March things really start to change. Flowers bloom, the sun rises earlier, the birds are back, you smell other things than exhaust gasses, and people also become more lively because of it. Then, at the end of March, the clock changes to summer time, and at the beginning of April, many trees are blooming and the air is filled with smells and pollen.
I’m not allergic to pollen (although I did test positive for a pollen, fungi and dust mite allergy one time years ago, but never again afterwards), but I think that there’s something else going on here. When I was still studying singing, a good friend of mine gifted me Elaine Aron’s The Highly Sensitive Person, because she recognised me in it. I read the book and did see familiar things in there, but didn’t take it too seriously yet. But since then, two therapists have classified me as an HSP without me even bringing up the subject, and I think that they have a point. Not only am I an emotional sponge, I am also unusually sensitive to sound, light, touch, texture, and smell. My immune system even reacts when my husband has a cold (and I don’t). Weird.
By the way, I don’t particularly like being seen as highly sensitive because of the (maybe mostly perceived by me, but still) stigma that connects sensitivity to oversensitivity, irrationality and exaggeration. I don’t want to be seen as weak or dumb or a poser.
However, if I don’t accept the way I’m wired, I resist an innate part of myself. HSPs have a different way of processing input, and by input I mean sensory, mental and emotional. Input takes a longer path in the brain in order to be processed. That means that, while the input is processed more intensely, it is also taking a longer time. There is also no differentiation between important input and unimportant stuff. The result is just like when there are too many cars on the road: a traffic jam.
Which brings me back to the spring fatigue. My theory is that my body cannot deal with the quick buildup in the amount of stimuli when nature moves to spring. The air is filling up with pollen that may not cause an allergic reaction, but they still ask for attention. The extra light and colours scream at my eyes. The birds sing and they are a delight to my ears, but their presence also asks for attention. People are going outside more, make more noise, and are generally more upbeat. The energetic baseline is shifting upwards, and my brain and body can’t keep up. Even though I enjoy it.
Usually, by the end of May, I’m more used to the new level and I find an equilibrium. But when autumn approaches, I embrace the cooler temperatures, the dulling rain, the darkness that is returning, the moving inward that soothes the soul. I don’t like the cold, but autumn and winter are so nice and quiet and restful. I can finally relax.
Of course, being HSP is not all bad. On the contrary, it has given me many cherished gifts over the years. It helps me experience nature and all the good things in life in a more intense way. I have an intimate relationship with music. I enjoy pleasant food and texture and art on a deep level. It helps me connect with people and empathise with them.
But it also exhausts me at times when I can’t seem to filter out the stuff that I don’t want to process so deeply. I am learning strategies to cope with that. Having boundaries is a good first step (albeit a very difficult one for me, it seems). I’m looking at Freya and taking notes.